TORONTO -- It took 11 innings, after failing to hold a late three-run lead, but it ended with another win for the Twins behind a career-high five RBIs from catcher Mitch Garver to complete their first series sweep at Rogers Centre since 2003.Garver went 4-for-6 with a homer and a
TORONTO -- It took 11 innings, after failing to hold a late three-run lead, but it ended with another win for the Twins behind a career-high five RBIs from catcher Mitch Garver to complete their first series sweep at Rogers Centre since 2003.
Garver went 4-for-6 with a homer and a double -- finishing the series 7-for-10 -- to help lead Minnesota to a 12-6 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday. The Twins won their third straight to bounce back after getting swept in Kansas City and trail the first-place Indians by 7 1/2 games with Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline looming.
"It was unfortunate we had to get into extras -- we had a nice game going," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Garv just had a phenomenal day. Started his first at-bat, the homer, the hit to right, the double. It was just one of those games where we needed everything."
The Twins rallied for six runs in the 11th with two outs after a double from James Dozier. Max Kepler brought home the winning run by getting hit by a 1-2 pitch from Jake Petricka with the bases loaded. Garver then roped a two-run ground-rule double before Robbie Grossman followed with a two-run automatic double of his own. Grossman scored on an RBI single from Joe Mauer.
"I'm trying to keep that consistent approach," said Garver, who has hit .351/.435/.554 with three homers and 12 RBIs over his last 27 games. "I want to hit the ball hard. I'm not trying to hit the ball anywhere in particular. I'm trying to hit the ball hard."
The rally came after Trevor Hildenberger was unable to hold a three-run lead in the eighth, loading the bases and giving up a two-run single to Luke Maile to right with the shift on. Aledmys Diaz tied it with a sacrifice fly.
It spoiled a win for Ervin Santana, who was mostly effective in his debut but also showed he's still not quite his normal self after surgery on his right middle finger in early February. Santana allowed three runs on seven hits over five innings in his no-decision. His fastball averaged 89.7 mph on the night.
"The first inning was the tough one for me," Santana said. "After that, I settled down and took a deep breath and went back to work. I was very happy, especially with the performance today. Five innings, three runs -- it was good. I'll take it."
Santana didn't have command issues, walking just one and striking out five. He threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 23 batters he faced, but his fastball velocity was down nearly three mph from last season. It wasn't unexpected, and he believes it'll improve as the season goes along, but he recorded seven swings and misses over his 97 pitches and none came on a fastball. He's unlikely to be dealt before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline as a result but could be a candidate to be placed on waivers and traded in August.
He gave up a run in the first on an RBI double from Kendrys Morales but was helped by a baserunning mistake by Morales, who was doubled up at second on a pop-up to short that ended the inning.
"I thought it was a big play," Molitor said of the early double play. "We got that looping liner we were able to flag down. You want to get off to a decent start, and I thought holding them to one there was big."
The Blue Jays scored again in the second on a sacrifice fly after Randal Grichuk doubled to open the frame.
The Twins took the lead with three runs off right-hander Sam Gaviglio in the third, keyed by an RBI single from Garver and Jake Cave beating out a double play to bring home a run. Mauer ripped an RBI double to center to score Cave.
Toronto tied it in the fifth, when Lourdes Gurriel Jr. doubled with one out and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Morales. The hit extended Gurriel Jr.'s hitting streak to eight games, a Toronto rookie record.
The fifth was the final inning for Santana, as he was relieved by trade candidate Zach Duke, who threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief.
Garver gave the Twins the lead with a go-ahead homer in the sixth off lefty Aaron Loup. It was Garver's fifth of the year and came on a 1-1 sinker. Garver added a third RBI in the eighth with a single to right after a single from Jorge Polanco and a double from Max Kepler. Garver went 6-for-8 with a homer and a double in the series.
Mauer kept the rally going with his second RBI double of the game, pulling a first-pitch fastball from Dennis Tepera down the right-field line. The Twins loaded the bases with two outs, but Brian Dozier popped up to end the inning, which proved to big as the Blue Jays came back with three runs in the bottom of the inning.
"We had the chance to add on a couple," Molitor said. "It turned out it would've been nice to add those, because we needed them. But you keep playing."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Belisle comes through: Reliever Matt Belisle came up big with scoreless ninth and 10th innings to pick up the win. He put runners at first and third in the ninth but worked out of the jam, getting Yangervis Solarte to line into a double play with the Twins utilizing a five-man infield. It was again Morales who was doubled up at first.
"Got a little lucky on the line drive double play to get off the field," Molitor said. "It didn't look good, especially after they had all the momentum scoring to tie. But yeah, Matty giving us two innings was big."
HE SAID IT
"It's good that you start a trip like we did with the Royals, and you come in here, a place historically that's been challenging for us, and they've been playing well at home. So you just kind of take them when you can get them. Now, we're going into that hotbed of Fenway against a really good team, but it feels good." -- Molitor on the sweep
Right-hander Kyle Gibson (4-7, 3.57 ERA) will start for the Twins in the series opener against the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Thursday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Gibson, a trade candidate, is coming off a rough outing against the Royals, allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings, but has been one of the club's most consistent starters. The Red Sox will counter with lefty Christopher Johnson (1-3, 3.81).
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.